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"David Novros at Paula Cooper Gallery"

Installation view, David Novros, May 11 – June 28, 2019

David Novros creates work that pushes beyond its internal pictorial space to generate a dynamic, kinesthetic experience. Inspired by Italian frescoes, Byzantine mosaics, Paleolithic cave paintings, and other in situ artworks, his surfaces are not intended to hold the eye but rather to promote movement with a painted place. The artist explains: “I am trying to identify the poetic reality of the paintings. I don’t have any particular system. Sometimes I paint one area of a painting for years— trying to find the ‘right’ light. I keep working until the painting gives me permission to move on.”1

In Boathouse, 2016, a work first commissioned as a painted place, Novros employs an iterative motif of borders and right angles—both within the painted composition of each canvas as well as in their collective arrangement on the wall. Enhanced by the use of subtle tonal shifts or, alternately, bold complementary colors, the work is at once placid and buoyant. Though the artist’s technique first appears simple, on close examination its rich variation of brushwork and hue builds an elusive yet almost tangible layered depth. For his recent work K (2017), Novros pushes this further by once again using iridescent Murano paint and oil to achieve a luminous and radiant surface.

Beyond the canvas works, a selection of watercolors, painted Coppers, and ceramic objects explore a wide vocabulary of materials and forms. Created in the 1980s in New Mexico, Novros’s copper works are made by exploding a line charge to generate projections in the metal. The works recall Novros’s interest in Byzantine and Paleo-Christian art and reflect his fascination with the process of their creation. Novros’s porcelain and plaster Solar Model envisions an architectural shelter to house a mural cycle. Evocative of an atrium-style Roman house, the object relates to two new monumental canvas works, also on view, which are based on imagined views of the model’s painted interior. Made in 1975, Portable Cave recalls the artist’s acclaimed portable murals, which he began in 1965 as a way to expand his interest in painting-in-place. The work’s earthy tones and recessed space absorbs ambient light.

1. Phong Bui, “In Conversation: David Novros with Phong Bui,” The Brooklyn Rail, June 7, 2008.